Not a bad thing, but if you’re running for the nomination to lead a party of xenophobes and bigots, not the best thing.
In 2004, then-Gov. Pawlenty urged the Minnesota Housing Financing Agency to partner with local groups and businesses in an effort to increase minority homeownership in the state. That partnership became the Emerging Markets Homeowners Initiative. At the time, Minnesota’s minority homeownership rate of 42 percent was slightly behind the national average, and part of the reason was that Minnesota’s relatively large Muslim population was unable to purchase homes. The MHFA decided to partner with a local group, the African Development Center, in “developing culturally sensitive products,” that would allow Muslims to enter the market. According to MHFA spokesperson Megan Ryan, the effort fizzled, in part because the ADC wasn’t able to find interested homebuyers. “I don’t know if it was that point in the economy,” Ryan said. “for whatever reason the program never took off.”
Pawlenty’s effort to increase minority homeownership by encouraging companies to offer Shariah-compliant mortgages was entirely in keeping with his reputation as a “Sam’s Club Republican” concerned with helping “regular people.” But in the 2012 race, he’ll be up against competitors who may try to use it against him.